How often have we heard the phrase “the world’s gone mad!” over the last few months? There seems to be uncertainty all over the globe at the moment – and now we’ve just had the news of a snap general election in Britain. As well as this, it feels like we’re bombarded with information all the time, through the media and social platforms. From celebrity babies to old school friends looking fantastic on Facebook, the world seems full of factors that increase our sense of general anxiety.
It feels like there is too much happening at once, and external factors are starting to fill up our ‘stress buckets’! However, you can still focus on your emotional health while there are external social and political factors at work.
In other words, how do we learn to keep calm in a crazy world?
Manage your social media
The constant scrolling, the information, the opinions, the comments, the sheer exhausting bombardment of social media… Smart phones are fantastically useful devices, but they’ve made it far too easy for us to live our lives on social media. We compare ourselves to others far too much (even though we probably suspect that their social media portrayals aren’t exactly accurate, this doesn’t prevent us from feeling inadequate because of them).
Switch off your WiFi at night so you’re not tempted to carry on scrolling at bedtime. Don’t friend or follow people or organisations that offend you or make you feel uncomfortable – and remember that you don’t actually have to have a social media account. We all lived perfectly well without social media “back in the day”!
Avoid alarmist news sources
We’ve all heard a lot about “fake news” recently, and there are certainly a lot of scary-sounding headlines around. Stick to reputable news sources that give facts, such as the BBC – but don’t have News 24 on a loop. You can always replace fakes with facts: if a headline grabs your attention but doesn’t quite feel right, check it out on a website such as FullFact (UK) or FactCheck.org (US). Knowledge can be deeply reassuring, and can help you manage worries caused by fear-mongering and alarmist headlines.
Do something completely different
Switch off the smartphone, put down the paper, and opt for some good old-fashioned fresh air and exercise! Take time to escape from the constant media bombardment, and as psychologist Dr Alan J Lipman beautifully puts it, “explore and interact with the unmediated world that you live in”. Spend time with real people you care about, not just social media profiles and talking heads on television. Take time to breathe, be mindful, enjoy the good things in the world rather than focusing on the turmoil.
Learn to manage your anxieties
You can’t change the world single-handedly – but you can manage how it affects you and how you deal with it. Many of my clients come to me because they feel that their anxiety or stress is taking over – and solution focused hypnotherapy is so effective at relieving these feelings. We work together to focus on solutions, rather than dwelling on problems, reducing your anxiety while calming your mind.
Learning mindfulness techniques is extremely beneficial (and this works so well hand-in-hand with solution focused hypnotherapy). This really helps with all that negative future forecasting which is such a symptom of stress.
Think about exceptions
Something that we focus on in my sessions is the concept of “exceptions”. By this, I mean occasions when everything is going well and you don’t feel personally unsettled. For example, a client may say “I never seem to feel anxious at work”, and that gives us an exception to the unsettled feelings. We may explore coping skills from this exception which can be used in other situations. If you feel that external factors are getting too much for you, identifying your own coping mechanisms can be of huge benefit.
Let me help
I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If the world seems like it’s spinning too fast at the moment, please call me for a confidential chat – and together we can help you control anxiety and stress.